Integrating Families

The “Family Ministries” paradigm is popping up all over the place. There are books, conferences, movements, curriculum and blogs all talking about how we need to minister to kids and youth within the context of family. As I have reviewed these resources, I have noticed that those talking about “Family Ministries” mean very different things. I fear that what is happening is that we are reacting to one extreme by going to another extreme. Having all ages together all the time wasn’t working so we swung to having all ages separate all the time. As that isn’t working either, it looks like we may swing back to the extreme of having all ages together all the time again and call it “Family Ministries.” I propose that we can have our cake and eat it, too!! There is a purpose and a huge benefit to age appropriate programming. A two year old can encounter God….but it’s going to be in a different context than a 6 year old, 13 year old, or 19 year old. By creating environments on purpose for the various age groups to grow in their relationship with Jesus, we are meeting each person where they are and guiding them one step closer to Jesus. However, if kids and youth never worship alongside other age groups, we will be missing the mark. I believe it’s important to have both age segregated worship experiences and “family style” worship experiences.

In your church, which extreme are you leaning toward? Are your families in age appropriate services all the time and never worshipping alongside each other? I would like to encourage you to take a service that is already scheduled for the adults and tweak it just slightly to make it a family experience. We recently had a Good Friday service at Risen King Community Church. Here’s how we made this service into an opportunity to integrate families.

1.)    Shorten the service—an hour is the optimal length of a family friendly service.

2.)    Offer childcare for those under 5—this allows families the opportunity to guide their kids through the service rather than focused on squirmy little ones.

3.)    Variety in the service—children have a shorter attention span, so we created the service with variety of music, theatrical readings, communion and teaching.

4.)    Equip families—give families some education as to why it is important to participate in the service with your children and how to make the most of the opportunity through some preparation conversations before the service and a chance to debrief afterward. This equipping can happen through a take home sheet prepared for families, an email or Facebook message or with a little instruction or during the service.

Look at your church calendar to see what is coming up in the next few months that could become an opportunity to practice integrating families.  For us, we increase the integration the older the kids become. There are about 6 times per year that our elementary students join their families in a worship service. This increases for Jr. High students and then a bit more for High School students to avoid the whiplash that can occur after high school when young adults who have only experienced youth programs are suddenly expected to participate in and enjoy adult worship services.

If you lean toward the other extreme of integration all of the time…I encourage you to think about some ways to reach kids where they’re at in their development process. We’ll talk about that more in later posts.

What are some ways you have or are going to enable families to worship together?e


About familydiscipleshippath

My husband, Tim, and I have been married for 17 years and have 3 great children. Our girls are 13 and 11 and the baby boy is 9. We have been living in Redding, CA and serving at Risen King Community Church since August, 2000. I serve as the Family Ministries Pastor. As a mom and a pastor, I represent both the church and the home and am on a journey of discovering and communicating practical ways the church and family can partner together to guide the young ones in our lives to know and love Jesus and live their lives(their whole lives) in light of that love.
This entry was posted in For Your Church and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s